All Buttoned Up

This painting is by Edward Hopper.  It’s called Cape Cod Morning. I have a picture of it in my office.  It reminds me not to hold back.  The woman looks like she wants to take off across the field, but she’s held in her place by something.

Insecurity.  Everyone has it, even people that seem like they have it all together. People that are smart, beautiful, can work a crowd, every last one of them experiences insecurity.  It limits potential and puts boundaries around what we think we can do.  It seems to get worse as you get older, or maybe it has peaks throughout a person’s life.

Children don’t seem to have insecurities, teenagers are rampant with insecurity, young adults seem to think they know everything and then insecurity creeps back in as we become adults.

When my son was in the first grade he had Career Day at school.  He was to come to school dressed like what he wanted to be when he grew up.  He was so excited and burst through the door declaring he wanted to be a Shark for Career Day.  Excuse me?

I calmly explained that a shark was an animal and you can’t be a shark for a career.

“The teacher said I could be anything I wanted to be and I want to be a shark when I grow up.  They’re so cool.”  That was his reply and who was I to tell him he could not be a shark.

So, I bought a blue t-shirt, ironed on the word shark across the front and sewed a fin, made out of black felt, on the back.  My son went to school for Career Day as a shark with a huge smile on his face.

“Oh, I hope no one else picked my same career,”  he said as we pulled up to school.  “I think you’re safe,” was my response.

Cotter went to school that day not caring, not concerned with what people would say or if his choice was unrealistic or silly.  Other children told him he could not be a shark or that his career was weird.  He didn’t care.  In his mind, he could be anything he wanted.

Insecurity was nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, he has decided he no longer wants to be a shark.  What do sharks major in?  He’s now 14 and wants for things much more of this world.  He has insecurities just like everyone else, but for that moment, he was limitless and it was brilliant to watch.

I have a string of insecurities, some of which are rooted in my being, others which just free float into my head from time to time, and some that are just plain stupid.

They limit me.

There in lies the challenge.  When we are no longer in the first grade, once we can realize limits, how far do we let them hold us back?  I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be a ballerina, it’s really not likely that I’ll join the circus, and I’ve never wanted to be a shark, but everything else is up for grabs.

Cotter, at 14 wants to be an attorney.  Turns out he was right, he can be a shark.

That’s all from the laundry room.  Dream in color.

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